I’m about to rock your granddad’s world: Don McLean says “American Pie” is NOT about Buddy Holly. Yes, Holly’s death WAS the jumping-off point for the song. McLean was a huge fan. But he says it’s really about America, in the tumultuous period of the late ’60s and early ’70s. He says, quote,
“Buddy Holly’s death is what I used to try to write the biggest possible song I could write about America . . . I wanted to write a song that was completely brand new in its perspective . . .[It was] this idea of being a rock ‘n’ roll dream, or a fantasy, of some sort. But it’s a dream where things morph into other things.”
McLean told told the USA Today that “The day the music died” refers to the plane crash, but takes on “so many other things” as the song progresses through six verses.
“You were coming to the end of the Vietnam War era. It had been building since the 60’s and in 1971 is was at a peak. Riots in the streets, cities on fire,”
It’s obvious McLean just wanted to take people back to a simpler time in 1959 via a tragic event. “A long..long..time a ago”